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Dinesh Raheja

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Today, Yash Chopra's sucrose-saturated films often pay overt obeisance to traditional values and conventional morality. But way back in 1976, Chopra defied sexual mores and created a one-of-a-kind Hindi film hero in Vijay (played by Shashi Kapoor). Contrasting Amitabh's granite-faced toeing of the conservative line in the film, Vijay was refreshingly unconventional and avant garde, a large-hearted man amongst narrow-minded boys.

A movie like Kabhie Kabhi happens only kabhi kabhi in Hindi cinema, not just because it is that rare multistarrer where each of its six male and female stars has a terrific role; but also because there are few movies that boast of such a rich haul of heady lyrics, lilting music, pithy dialogue and a theme that explores myriad aspects of romance, both young and mature.

Producer Director Music Director Stars
 Yash Raj  Films  Yash Chopra  Khayyam  Shashi Kapoor,  Amitabh  Bachchan,  Raakhee,  Waheeda  Rehman,
 Rishi Kapoor,
 Neetu Singh

The film begins on a gentle, lyrical note with a shortlived romance between budding college poet Amit (Amitabh) and Pooja (Raakhee). At Amit's egging, Pooja kowtows to her parents' wishes and marries cheery architect Vijay (Shashi Kapoor).

As Amit says, "Humein koi haq nahin pahunchta ke hum apni khushi ke liye apne maa-baap ke armanon ka gala ghont de." Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, anyone?

Two decades later, Vijay's son Vicky (Rishi) woos Pinky (Neetu Singh). Before they can tie the knot, Pinky's parents (Parikshit Sahni and a la-di-dah Simi who encapsules the rich, cucumber sandwiches milieu of the film), divulge to Pinky that she is an adopted child. Shaken to the core, Pinky now wants to find her mother.

Pinky's search takes her to a snowclad hill-station where her mother, Anjali (Waheeda), as cinematic twists would have it, is now married to Amit. Anjali is terrified of losing her husband Amit and daughter Sweetie (newcomer Naseem), and so introduces her illegitimate daughter Pinky as her niece.

To compound Pinky's miseries, Vicky tracks her down. He manages to charm his way into Amit's house and office by flirting with the susceptible, giddy-headed Sweetie. A tug-of-war between Pinky and Sweetie --- Vicky cruelly flirts with Sweety to make Pinky respond --- comes to a head when a distraught Anjali divulges Pinky's true identity to Amit.

In a show of abject male chauvinism, Amit punishes Anjali with sullen silences and sharp jibes for concealing her past 'misdeeds' from him.

Ironically, to drive home his double standards, Pooja arrives at the hill-station. In one of the film's best scenes, Vijay realises that Pooja had once been in love with Amit and he confronts the latter. However, after a brief outburst (Vijay expresses his anguish with an off-key rendition of Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein something something hota hai), he realises that he is behaving boorishly and is contrite.

Vijay chastises himself and inadvertently makes the audience conscious of the sharp contrast in Amit's behaviour when he has to reconcile himself to his own wife's past.

Famous songs from Kabhi Kabhie
  Song  Singers
  Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein  Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh
  Kabhi kabhi  Mukesh
  Main pal do pal ka shayar  Mukesh
  Main har ek pal ka shayar hoon  Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey
  Pyar kar liya to kya  Kishore Kumar
  Tere chehre se  Kishore Kumar
  Mere ghar aayi ek  Lata Mangeshkar
  Surkh jode ki ye  Lata Mangeshkar
  Surkh jode ki ye  Lata Mangeshkar

Amit, however, rationalises his situation but not his wife's. Until a literal test by fire. He saves Pinky from a blazing forest while Vicky rescues Sweetie, which makes him finally bury the past.

This is definitely the best role of Neetu Singh's career. She makes the most of it, sensitising us to an outsider's need to be acknowledged and accepted.

Waheeda Rehman is the picture of dignity. Raakhee is a befitting embodiment of Sahir Ludhianvi's poetry. Yash gives Raakhee few lines to speak, preferring to let her hazel brown eyes do the talking.

In one of his rare romantic roles, Amitabh Bachchan exudes simmering intensity. The passion in his eyes during the early scenes is grippingly replaced with seemingly bottomless bitterness and pain.

Rishi Kapoor adds an electric charge to the film each time he comes on screen.

But the film's most endearing character is Shashi Kapoor. Writer Sagar Sarhadi seems to be partial to Shashi's character of progressive husband. Here is a rare screen hero human enough to experience jealousy but is able to temper it with reason. Kapoor blends flamboyance and sensitivity to come up with a memorable performance.

The film also captures intimate everyday conversations between parents and their teenage children. There is an interesting interplay between characters big and small. I liked the way Shashi flirts with Simi, his samdhan-to-be. There is droll humour (spoilt kid Rishi Kapoor on his first job at a construction site airily asks the manager Deven Verma, "Yahan nahane ke liye garam pani milega?")

    More Classics
Naya Daur
Kagaz Ke Phool
Mera Saaya


Chopra occasionally resort to cliches --- he intersperses the scene where Waheeda divulges her secret to Amitabh with a shot of an explosion on the site --- but fluidly orchestrates several characters. The drama in the scene where Waheeda sees Neetu Singh emerging from Rishi's quarters after a clandestine meeting is heightened courtesy the music produced by an unawares Rishi, furiously strumming a guitar.

Famous Dialogues:

* Vijay (vainly attempting to be poetic about Pooja's beauty): "Aapki aankhen itna haseen hai jaise ... kissi gareeb ke jhopde mein lantern jalta ho."

* Vijay: (in response to Pooja giving him the Tum insaan ke roop mein devta ho line): "Iss duniya mein aadmi insaan ban jaaye toh bahut hain."

* Amit: "Daag daman par nahin, dil pe liya hain."

Pooja (to Amit): "Tumhe kaun mana karta hai ke mujhe yaad mat karo. Magar haske, jaise main yaad karti hoon."


* Amitabh-Shashi Kapoor-Yash Chopra did five films in a row --- Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie, Trishul, Kaala Patthar and Silsila.

* Along with Tapasya, this was Raakhee's comeback film after her marriage and separation from Gulzar.


* Music director Khayyam's career was in doldrums, but he made a thumping comeback with Kabhi Kabhie. The popularity of the music prompted Khayyam and Yash Chopra to continue collaborating with Trishul, Noorie, Nakhuda and Sawaal.

* Mukesh sang for Amitabh while Kishore Kumar lent his voice to Rishi Kapoor. But Mukesh was unable to reap the benefits of the film's success as he died within months of the film's release.

* Sahir Ludhianvi deservedly won the Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for the title song.

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